First of all, I want to thank you for the FAI FIX program you put together and for the huge amount of helpful YouTube videos. Also, before I go into more detail here I would like to excuse the length of the following text and very much hope that you stick with it. My English may not be perfect as I come from Germany and do not regularly talk about this topic in the English language.
I would like to talk a little bit about how I came across your YouTube channel at first and, consequently, the FAI FIX program. After I fell with my bike on a muddy trail in the forest about ten years ago and my legs were forcefully and abruptly pulled into a “split position”. I started to feel a strange pinch in the anterior/lateral part of my hip – especially in abduction and flexion and/or internal rotation.
About 10 different visits to at least 7 different doctors did not change anything about my situation. After several years and more visits to the orthopedist I was told that I had FAI (cam impingement, a torn labrum and – according to the MRI – bad cartilage for my age). I was told surgery would probably be the best option. Also, I should probably stop climbing – which was what I was doing about 6 times a week at the time.
Obviously, after many years of moderate but increasing pain and a bunch of other orthopedists telling me that they could not tell me anything because I probably didn’t have anything, I started to do some research on my own as I was not particularly interested in getting surgery at 23 years of age.
I spent a lot of time on scientific articles which I was able to access for free since I was already a university student at that time. In retrospect, the “snowball method” for my research was probably a mistake as I found more and more orthopedic surgeons arguing in favor of surgery without mentioning a lot of critical literature that I found later on.
After another half a year or so I came to the conclusion that surgery probably was the best option as nothing I had done had improved my situation. Add the fact that after the MRI – coupled with an orthopedic theory about bone on bone contact – I always thought I would make things worse. In fact, I stopped climbing as it really did hurt my hips (drop knees etc. are exactly the kind of movement that got harder and harder to do without pain). I also had trouble running and walking as my anterior hip got super tight (now I can say that it is mostly the TFL). After having made that difficult decision I finally came across the Upright Health YouTube channel where Matt was telling me that the theory that bones cause pain and surgery is the only way to make things better is basically nonsense.
As I was already struggling with my decision, I came to the conclusion that the evidence I gathered in favor of surgery was more convincing. About a year later (as you have to wait some time in order to be operated on by one of the top guys in Germany), I got surgery.
The clinic asked me if I had a problem being operated on during the International Hip Arthroscopy Conference in Munich. I was actually operated on by another surgeon who apparently is one of the best arthroscopic hip surgeons in the world and who also wrote many of the articles I also read during my research.
The surgery itself went well and rehab was relatively quick. I was able to do everything I did before relatively quickly, and even though physiotherapy was rather disappointing, I did in fact have a little bit more hip range of motion 10 weeks after surgery. Mostly abduction improved whereas internal rotation and flexion were still quite restricted.
I gave it more time and exercise and already opted for surgery number two because the level of frustration with another “broken” hip was still high. In addition to that, the psychological factor was still present, as were the pictures of me never being able to climb or surf or….ever again. Surgery number two, in terms of rehab, went even better mostly because nothing was done with my labrum. It’s interesting to note that on the MRI the labrum was not only “torn” but would also probably have to be resected because it was in such bad shape (may be that the MRI is in fact not! the best indicator of labrum health?).
Yet, in the long term, like many of your clients, I also have to report that surgery did not really improve my situation: I still had pain in abduction, internal rotation, flexion. External rotation on the left actually got worse. I still had the range of motion of an eighty-year-old even though I used to be a gymnast when I was younger and able to do the splits, etc.
The problem in standing abduction, for example, was not that my adductors felt tight. I could not go any further because I felt a pinch on the outside of the hip which kept me from going any deeper into any position.
What surgery did change though was that I was not so much afraid anymore about bone on bone contact. Every time I felt a pinch in my hip I told myself “this cannot (or at least should not) be bone on bone as that problem was “solved”. Unhappy with the results I got back to research AND back to Upright Health and the FAI Fix which I was now determined to try. This was early 2016. Even though I did some tissue work and stretching as well as reactivation before I bought the FAI Fix, I was not doing it in such a systematic way. Also, I was never sure about whether or not the techniques with all the different tools could make things worse as I was frequently told by different physiotherapist.
The results – compared to anything I have done before (including surgery) – were pretty awesome, yet, of short duration. I got more and more mobile and felt less of a pinching sensation in the hip after doing all the drills, but when I woke up the next morning it was back to my uncomfortable “normal” or at least a bit better than it was before. My best guess is that this is probably due to a lack of muscles in certain areas, most of all the glutes/posterior chain. As I focused mostly on stretching and tissue work because it would give me immediate positive feedback, I did not put much/enough effort (and time) into reactivating muscles that are not working properly. This will be my main goal in the near future and I am convinced that this will make a big difference.
With my current knowledge and own experience, I would probably not recommend surgery to anyone – that is, until you have not tried something like the FAI FIX or similar programs for at least as long as you’ve been having your hip problems.
I think the one key point is that you have to be willing to put the time in. That, I think, was (one of) the main benefits of your program. The almost trivial sounding realization that something like hip pain that gets worse over years and years does not just go away with an “easy” fix like surgery.
And it’s not like I tried nothing and then got surgery. I consider myself to be very disciplined and active when it comes to my bodily health/awareness. But I made the mistake of expecting too much from too little. That is true for both the time I put in stretching, tissue work and strengthening before surgery and with the surgery itself.
I cannot report that I am pain free after just a couple of weeks of training. For example I do still feel a pinch when I am lying in bed and letting my knee fall to the side. But I am now improving my hip health and my body’s health in general on a daily basis. Even if it takes another year or two, compared to how long it was getting worse and compared to how many years I spent getting less and less mobile this seems like a “good deal.” Just recently – after years of not being able to run without my hips getting super tight – I was able to run my first half marathon in one hour and thirty minutes.
Thank you again for all your help. Pain sucks. Life shouldn’t!